Rachael Grant is a Mechanical Design Engineering Apprentice at Thales in the UK. She’s in her 3rd year studying at the University of Strathclyde.

What made you want to pursue a career in the sector and an apprenticeship?

I wanted to pursue a career in the defence sector as it’s a great opportunity to contribute to the development of cutting edge and innovative technologies. I knew a full time university course wouldn’t suit my style of learning so I looked at other options and discovered I could do a graduate apprenticeship programme; this would allow me to get a degree, whilst also gaining experience and skills on the job.

Have you worked on any interesting projects / programs during your apprenticeship? 

Currently I’m working on my third year university project, which is a research and development project looking into lens stabilisation. The project aims to combine fine and coarse stabilisation to achieve a hybrid approach. To achieve this the team is working on a test demonstrator setup that will utilise and prove new technologies to develop image stabilisation within Thales products. The project has quickly developed over a short space of time and it is exciting to be a part of the team.

What has been the best thing about your apprenticeship, has anything surprised you?

The best thing about my degree apprenticeship at Thales is on the job experience and building up confidence in the workplace. When I started I was quiet and over the course of my apprenticeship I’ve seen a big change in my confidence and work ethic. I also find the STEM and outreach opportunities really beneficial as you can volunteer for careers fairs and run interactive sessions with school students; I view this as a key role in engineering to engage young people to look at STEM as a future career option.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship?

Yes, I would recommend an apprenticeship. Without Thales I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on such interesting and important projects. Applying what you learn from University into real life enables you to learn and grow in your career and the 4 years’ experience is very beneficial to fast tracking your career in engineering.

What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship?

Keep an open mind. Thales is a great place to explore new techniques, work with interesting people, and open your perspective and attitudes towards engineering. They will offer you the ability to work on a variety of opportunities across the business and gain on the job knowledge.